Digital Festival Cardiff – Event Review

29th May 2018

Kagool’s digital researcher, Sam Etherington shares his highlights from Digital Festival Cardiff.

For a digital marketing agency Cardiff was the place to be this May. Fortunately one of Kagool’s offices is based there, so on a bright, warm day I took the opportunity to attend Digital Festival, the biggest tech event in Wales that’s now in its sixth year with over 2000 attendees, 60+ sessions and over 100 speakers.

The festival was held in the iconic venue of the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay and focussed on key areas in the modern technological landscape; topics varying from smart cities to artificial intelligence to the data economy.

As well as the high number of speeches and panels available to glean thoughts from well-respected industry experts, there were also around 50 exhibitors dotted around the venue varying from consultancies to technology providers who were more than happy to chat to attendees.

Why should you go to Digital Festival?

There are a couple of great reasons why it was worth attending this event this year.

  1. The visionary headliners who deep dived into the tech that is changing the world as we know it.
  2. The collaborative atmosphere where you can meet a great number of innovators, creators and makers who are more than happy to engage in conversations.

Speakers are often what make or break events like these, so which talks were worth attending this year? For me it was the opening keynotes in the vast and expansive Donald Gordon Theatre that were worth a watch. I personally saw the second keynote speech, delivered by Anne Boden, a proud Welsh entrepreneur, CEO and founder of fintech start-up Starling Bank.

Anne provided an intriguing account of how she came to start Starling Bank, walking the audience through how her experiences of working in C-level roles at mainstream banking corporations allowed her to spot a gap in the market for an app-based online-only bank that provides a seamless experience and boasts an intuitive UI.

Although her bank only launched a year ago, it has already won Best British Bank and Best Current Account Provider in the British Bank Awards; proving that the risk she took at delving into the world of entrepreneurship has already started paying off.

Personalisation and big names

After that inspirational talk, it was time for the various workshops and panels to start throughout the venue. There were around five different choices to choose from in each time slot throughout the day, so it was important to choose wisely. I decided that the panels would be the most interesting to attend, not only because there were the perspectives of four or five different people, but I felt that the topics being discussed would most benefit my role as Digital Researcher at Kagool.

The first panel of the day was all about data and personalisation and in particular the evolutions that came from the data economy. Themes including GDPR, new technologies, data culture and customer journeys were discussed by representatives including those from Go Compare and BT which were intriguing. The most interesting fact I took from this panel is that BT stores 27 petabytes of data, that’s enough to store the DNA of every single person on the planet!

Data is forever

The second panel followed immediately after and again was centred around data, titled “Data is forever”. Working for a data centric agency that takes how data is used and protected seriously in line with our ISO 2701 accreditation, this headline caught my attention.

This panel contained various representatives from esteemed organisations such as the National Grid, Royal College of Nursing and the CEO of Cisco himself. Their discussions explored the impacts of data and assessed the opportunities and risks surrounding data. It went on to consider new perspectives of revenue around data.

This talk was particularly interesting due to the range of speakers, they were all from a vast array of differentiating organisations which made it interesting to hear their different perspectives on how data is used in their own businesses.

Post-lunch new technologies

After a spot of lunch, I attended my third and final panel of the day, this time focussing on new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Automation and Robotics. These types of technologies are opening doors in a wide selection of industries from banking to healthcare. It was interesting to hear what the panellists had to say on the topic.

Again, there was an impressive representation of experts, most of which were company founders and CEOs, and companies including Accenture Digital and the Office for National Statistics.  The main emphasis of this chat centred on the why?  Why is now the time for these technologies and why is it an unprecedented time in history?


Overall, I am impressed by the quality and quantity of speakers at Digital Festival Cardiff. it’s not often you get an event of this magnitude outside of London in the UK, it really helps to put Cardiff on the map as an up and coming digital and tech hub.

I thought the event was well organised, the exhibition itself looked great and was easy to navigate to the different talks and workshops taking place. What was also great was that the topics were not only varied, but were relevant and up to date with current trends; something that is extremely important in an industry that is changing all the time.

If you’re in web design or a digital marketing agency Cardiff has this great festival annually to benefit you, I would recommend it especially if you’re enthusiastic about innovation and learning about new digital and tech trends.